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The FAQ states:

If your question generally covers things such as…Game-specific hardware and utilities…then you are in the right place to ask your question!"

But it does not clearly define non-game-specific hardware and utilities as off-topic.

For applications that are non-game-specific such as and , their prevalent use by gamers might make them useful questions, but are they actually on-topic when the questions are about the GUI, API, or general application usage? Where do we draw the line on what aspects of these applications are still on-topic?

If we support TeamSpeak general usage and beyond, then why aren't we fielding Ventrillo, Mumble, Skype, C3, etc. questions of the same? Is it based on some sort of popularity contest? How do we know what applications are okay here and which aren't?

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  • fraps is likely more of a game-specific utility because of its dependence upon DirectX and OpenGL renderers as well as its stated intention for game recordings. The addition of the ability to record desktops and uses for non-game applications is typically outside the stated intentions. Perhaps another, more general video capture software like Camtasia would be a better example. – skovacs1 Aug 31 '13 at 14:43
  • @Ullallulloo Related, but it should be noted that the subject is still quite divorced. That question refers to software that specifically interacts with game software or affects game behaviour. It does not make the distinction for software that is entirely disconnected from games in their behaviour and therefore not necessarily "game-specific" as outlined in the FAQ. The heart of the question is really what "game-specific" entails and what level of support is to be provided. – skovacs1 Sep 7 '13 at 11:40
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Let's lay out some fundamental premises and my basic argument:

  1. Off topic does not necessarily imply bad. Some of the things we've marked as explicitly "off topic" make a question bad, though. (Piracy, Catalogs, etc) Bad questions should be closed, deleted, and forgotten.
  2. When a question is good, but potentially off-topic, the dividing line shouldn't be the program in question or the specific aspect in question, but the expertise requested.
  3. If a question could be answered differently depending on the type of expert asked, we should attempt to engage the asker, as it is fundamentally their problem. If it is up to us to decide, I suggest that we err on the side of not migrating things that are overlapping between sites.
  4. Migration is not punitive; the motivation is helping the asker get the answer they're seeking. Let's treat it as a helpful process rather than a "GTFO" process.

I tend to think of it like this:

You have a problem, and a cell phone with two numbers in it. One number gets you your IT/hacker buddy, and the other gets you your pro gamer/hacker buddy.

Which number do you dial to get help?

If you think the IT guy is just not going to have a clue - then the question probably belongs on Arqade and wouldn't fit as well elsewhere. Likewise, if the gamer guy is probably not going to have a clue, it probably belongs elsewhere and not here.

There are some questions that probably either of them could answer. "My video card's drivers are broke!" or "I'm trying to get Linux running on my PS3" (well, back when that was a thing...). Even "How do I get my game server to auto-restart when it hangs?" In that case, you might get different answers from different sites, but you'd probably get an answer from Arqade.

I'm of the opinion that we shouldn't migrate the overlap. If it's software where gamers are going to use it, and there are likely to be game-related issues related to it, then it's almost certainly better here than elsewhere. (Sometime ask me about restarting game servers that hang... no amount of bash-fu helped, but that's a long story)

The asker picked this site, so chances are decent that they wanted a "pro gamer/hacker" answer. If it seems like maybe they don't want that, asking if they'd like to ask the IT guys instead is valid. I think migrating them over there is often a decision that they should be involved in, and reduces the friction during a migration.

The absolute worst-case scenario is that we can't answer the question and it sits unanswered and unloved. That's sad, but it's not unheard of, and it's not the end of the world.

Assuming these questions are otherwise valid, here are some short examples, where I chose Excel to be the software in question:

I'm making a spreadsheet for Fallout 3, but I can't get my formulas to work right in Excel

This is tangentially about Fallout 3, but they're asking for Excel expertise. Not really something we can help with; let's work on migrating it.

I'm using Bob's Excel Calculator for Eve Online and I can't get the frobozz column to populate with valid values

This is kind of an overlap - someone who plays Eve may have expertise in using Bob's Excel Calculator for Eve Online and could help. However, I'd be tempted to ask them if they'd like to migrate it on the odds that they'd get a better answer from someone with more spreadsheet expertise.

Is it possible to win the "Space Sim" hidden in Excel 97?

Here we're talking specifically about a game embedded in an otherwise non-gaming related app. Probably not going to get a lot of expert advice from spreadsheet experts on this one.

  • I like how this speaks to the undefined and consequently subjective FAQ definition. I was hoping for a hard and fast rule. With this, it will need discussion and be subject to close/re-open votes because of subjective policy. When the question is about something for tangential purposes like chat, server setups or what have you, even with the FAQs don't asks, that's a broad and ambiguously-defined area (Could I ask Excel questions because I track my inventory in it?). How far do we support on said applications? If they chose us to get our answer, when is it correct to suggest migration? – skovacs1 Sep 5 '13 at 0:08
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    @skovacs1, it's my opinion that basically any time we could see an argument against migrating it, that we just shouldn't do it. Between that and communication with the user to help them decide where their question will be answered best, I think we can smooth the whole process in most cases. "Off topic" in the case of "could/should belong elsewhere" is really about getting the best answer possible, and less "this needs to go because it's terrible" than other rules. – agent86 Sep 5 '13 at 0:27
  • It's important to divorce discussions of migration and closure. Just because we decide we don't want it here, doesn't mean we want to send it over there. – LessPop_MoreFizz Sep 5 '13 at 2:58
  • Yes. Hopefully it's clear that in the current discussion I'm talking about good questions where we're not sure if they fit the scope of the site or not. – agent86 Sep 5 '13 at 20:06
  • @LessPop_MoreFizz That's a very good point. The question is entirely about closure for off-topic, regardless of whether it gets migrated or not. This answer speaks mostly to migration so that got brought in with this answer. It was never actually a matter of question quality or even a case of could/should belong elsewhere as it is entirely a question of whether it belongs here. – skovacs1 Sep 7 '13 at 11:33
  • If I get the gist of your answer, then you're essentially saying that we support all hardware and utilities, period and that there is never justification for closure based on what software or hardware they are asking about except if it falls clearly under subjects that we define specifically as off-topic (like mods and shopping rec), but that we should suggest migration if we think someone else might provide a better answer. This seems an overly broad scope. Are you sure that the intent of Arqade isn't to be a little more focused than this? – skovacs1 Sep 7 '13 at 11:50
  • @skovacs1 No, I think you're fundamentally misunderstanding my statement. Is AutoCAD on topic here? Not generally. Are Python interpreters on topic here? Not generally. Those aren't (generally) questions for which a gamer expert has expertise. But there are ways to ask questions about general purpose software packages like Skype, Teamspeak, fraps, etc, that are game-specific. My dividing line isn't the piece of software; it's what kind of expertise is being requested. – agent86 Sep 7 '13 at 12:47
  • "On topic" in the case of "is or is not in the scope of gaming expertise" is different than "is a good or bad question." Bad questions should get closed and left to rot. However, your meta question specifically brings up questions that are otherwise valid, but just might not fit the scope of a gaming related site. My suggestion is that we shouldn't try to draw hard lines around a particular program or piece of hardware and say "it is not possible to ask a gaming related question about this" – agent86 Sep 7 '13 at 12:50
  • Further, if it could be general enough that it could belong elsewhere, there's no need to force it to be migrated, and certainly no reason to re-scope it in order for it to be migrated. For instance, "I'm having trouble with this Minecraft exception" shouldn't be reworked into "My program is throwing this Java exception, how do I debug it?" and migrated to SO. – agent86 Sep 7 '13 at 12:52
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    Where I draw the line is - "what type of expertise is being requested, and do 'expert gamers' possess that expertise?" instead of "There are other places that also have experts who could help" or "This is a program that has general use, therefore this question is better elsewhere." – agent86 Sep 7 '13 at 12:57
  • @skovacs1, edited to try to clarify and provide examples. – agent86 Sep 7 '13 at 13:48
  • I don't really understand why you repeatedly bring up "good" or "bad" questions as that was never a matter for discussion here and is entirely unrelated to anything that's been said. Was there some aspect of the question which brought this idea up and how could I improve the question to not lead you to this notion of good vs. bad as that was not something that I intended to ask about? The question was simply what's on-topic and what's off-topic which you address for the most part and I thought that was all I asked. – skovacs1 Sep 7 '13 at 14:02
  • @skovacs1, LessPop brought up the topic of "badness" and thus it became part of the conversation. I tend to find people make faulty logical assumptions when it comes to my defense of categories or certain question types. I wanted to make sure to everyone reading the question or using it as a basis for future decisions that I was excluding "bad things" from the discussion. I also think that "good, but off topic" and "needs migration" overlap in probably 90+% of the cases (SE has sites for virtually all aspects of computing), so migration is an important thing to consider. – agent86 Sep 7 '13 at 14:35
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    @agent86 I did not bring up badness. My point was more along the lines of how to respond to 'Well if I can't ask my question on this StackExchange, which one should I ask it on?" Just because there isn't someplace else to send it, and it's kinda sorta maybe on topic here, doesn't mean we should default to giving it a pass. Put another way, I am disputing the relevance at least, if not the accuracy of your statement that "SE has sites for virtually all aspects of computing" and that "Good, but off topic" overlaps with "needs migration" 90% of the time. – LessPop_MoreFizz Sep 7 '13 at 15:18
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    As an aside: I've been trying for a long time to come up with a good analogy w/r/t the type of expertise that Arqade users have and how it relates to the question being asked, and I think you've nailed it. – Brant Sep 12 '13 at 21:51
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I think the big thing is that FRAPs and TeamSpeak are aimed at gamers, and used almost exclusively by them. You could just use Steam for the Software section, but I don't think many people actually do.

I think they should be on-topic. Ventrillo, Mumble, and C3 are basically like TeamSpeak and primarily used by gamers. While they wouldn't have to be used for gaming, they're pretty gaming-specific. They would be on-topic on SuperUser as well, but so is Steam. We also already have tags for and . Popularity doesn't determine whether or not something's on-topic, but it does influence the number of questions asked, which is why you don't see more of them, I guess. I think most aspects of these programs should be allowed to be asked here.

For more general programs like Skype, recordMyDesktop, or Camtasia, it would be silly to try to support every question about the program, because there are a lot of programs that can be used for gaming. Even things that relate to something that relates to gaming like "How can I export my Skype chat logs from my clan?" seems too unrelated to be on-topic here. For general-use programs, I would suggest that we require that it be directly related to games. Both of our current questions are also tagged with another game, which I think is best. It would be fine if they can just directly relate to general gaming though.

One thing to consider though is that SuperUser supports general use questions, so when asking a question, you would want to consider which demographic would be able to answer it better.

  • Teamspeak isn't actually aimed at gamers, but a much larger audience. "TeamSpeak enables people to speak with one another over the Internet. TeamSpeak is flexible, powerful, scalable client-server software which results in an Internet based conferencing solution which facilitates communication between users." - TeamSpeak. In the What is TeamSpeak doc, they specifically reference "Online Gaming, Education, Individuals, Government and Military." – skovacs1 Aug 31 '13 at 15:27
  • Could you be a little clearer about what "directly relate to general gaming" means? This question is entirely about TeamSpeak general usage as far as notification settings and would be the same for the notifications interfering with any application, but circumstantially, the asker was using a game in which these notifications troubled them. This applies to all general gaming as much as it does to any other application. Is it directly related enough? – skovacs1 Aug 31 '13 at 15:39
  • @skovacs1: They might not say it's aimed at gamers, but it's name is Team Speak. Regardless of who's it's intended to be used by, it's pretty clearly overwhelmingly gamers who use it in the general public. – Ullallulloo Aug 31 '13 at 15:40
  • Or development teams or business teams for conferences. There are many kinds of "teams" that "speak" to one another. Gamers may be the primary users, but that's only clear among gamers. – skovacs1 Aug 31 '13 at 15:42
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    @skovacs1: Yeah, that example doesn't seem very related to gaming. If it was Skype, I would say close it, but TeamSpeak seems gaming-centric enough for general questions about it to be okay. I'm not really resolute on that point though. – Ullallulloo Aug 31 '13 at 15:43
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    I can't really accept this answer in its current state as it fails to answer either point of question clearly. You say popularity shouldn't determine whether something is on-topic, but then you go on to say that the demographics should be considered when deciding if it's on-topic. Where we draw the line on what aspects of given software do we support? is not addressed in any clear way and there still isn't a definition on when a piece of software is within scope as far as what constitutes "related to gaming." Could you try being a bit clearer? – skovacs1 Aug 31 '13 at 16:07
  • @skovacs1: I meant the total number of people using it doesn't matter. The number of those who are gamers could. If the software's use is mostly gaming-specific, then I would say any questions are allowed. If it's something like Skype or Camtasia where it's just general-use software, then I would leave questions where it doesn't involve it's direct interaction with a game to SuperUser. Asking how to stop popups in Skype that you keep clicking when you're playing would be off-topic, but asking how to get Camtasia to correctly record Skyrim or how to get Skype to work with CoD would be fine. – Ullallulloo Aug 31 '13 at 16:47
  • I'd just like to throw in my two cents here: we have a lot of Minecraft questions and answers that deal with debugging problems with Java, and Java is not a gaming-specific environment. – Robotnik Aug 31 '13 at 16:56
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    @Robotnik: The questions are pretty directly related to gaming through Minecraft though. – Ullallulloo Aug 31 '13 at 16:57
  • @Ullallulloo - I realise, but my point is when we get questions like "I am getting this: java.lang.NullPointerException what do" the only thing making them on topic on Arqade is the fact they're tagged with Minecraft – Robotnik Aug 31 '13 at 16:58
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    @Robotnik "Caused by" Minecraft would make the Java question on topic though, wouldn't it? – SevenSidedDie Aug 31 '13 at 17:02
  • Popularity among gamers or non is directly related to those demographics' ability to answer - it's still about popularity of given software then. How does one know about the popularity of given software in a certain demographic. I'd never heard of TeamSpeak until this subject came up - their docs leave me with little to no concept of its popularity among or outside of gamers and its functionality has absolutely nothing to do with games (it's functionality is to transmit voice messages). This is why a definition of when something "relates to gaming" is needed and demographic is unclear. – skovacs1 Aug 31 '13 at 17:03
  • @skovacs1 TeamSpeak was developed for gaming. The fact that the company is trying to branch out and compete with Skype and Google Voice and are doing PR to support the pivot doesn't change their actual users and the actual design direction. – SevenSidedDie Aug 31 '13 at 17:05
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    @skovacs1 It's not unclear at all. What the company wishes is immaterial to the fact of the matter. The fact of the matter is that TeamSpeak has negligible market share outside of gaming. The company wishing to be more general doesn't make it so, and we have no reason to change our site just because some company posts a press release hoping to convince the world that white is black and up is down. – SevenSidedDie Aug 31 '13 at 17:29
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    @skovacs1 The answer here is pretty accurate. "Aimed at and used almost exclusively by gamers." So TeamSpeak questions will almost always be on topic, while Skype questions will almost always be off topic unless there is a very narrow focus on a particular gaming use and it can't be usefully answered without addressing the gaming aspect of the question. – SevenSidedDie Aug 31 '13 at 18:36

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